Kenyan sportsmen have another opportunity of putting the country back to where it belongs at the world map and restore the national pride from the early year’s lowest moments.
Two main sports events which Kenya will feature include;
World Cross-Country Championships in Edinburgh,Scotland
I’m sure after last year’s success (at team level), the athletes have a huge task of winning some individual titles especially the coveted senior men’s and women races. The event was hosted in Mombasa, with the countrymen trying to claim glory at what was referred to as “Home of Cross-Country running”- which Steve Cram of England ( IAAF British official and former 800m& 1500m athlete) had differed with last year. Let’s not call attention to that point for now, that’s for another article.
Each of the senior events covers about 8km for women and 12 km for men while the juniors will hope to cover 6 and 8 km each. Going by the history of the event, Kenyans will be a challenge for the team titles, but individual titles will be a hard fight. Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele will be coming back from last year’s embarrassment when he had to end his race prematurely after heat exhaustion and dehydration at the Mombasa circuit. Eritrean Zersenay Tadesse gladly took up the lead which had seemed like a 2-man race and won the race by a margin of over 5 seconds.
The same can be said of the senior women’s where Kenyan-born Dutch runner, Lorna Kiplagat won the race convincingly leading for the better part of the race and relegating the Ethiopian ladies to 2nd and 3rd while the Kenyans took fringe positions but took the team title.
This being a tight race to predict and coming against the back-drop of some late but intense preparations for the Kenyan team, it will be good to see who takes up the mantle of the Cross-country race(s). Junior athlete Asbel Kiprop is looking formidable coming into this year’s event as are Gideon Ng'atuny and Augustine Cheruiyot hoping to anchor Kenya to its first senior men’s title in 7 years.
The Junior races open the events on Sunday at 1300 hours with the climax being the Senior men’s race on Sunday late afternoon. For more information check www.edinburgh2008.co.uk.
Rugby Sevens Series in Hong Kong
The Kenya Rugby team takes another round of the IRB series this time held in Hong Kong. Having come from the San Diego Sevens in USA with a favourable semi-final position and collecting valuable points to lie 6th in the IRB Sevens Series standings, the team is beginning to look as the rank outsiders and keen to challenge other stronger and more experienced 7s teams like Fiji, Samoa and New Zealand and lie above England , Scotland Australia and Wales.
The team has been training quite intensively and the focus has been seen with the good start this year and a sense of patriotism seems to have propped up the team to the semi-final place in San Diego as fans came out to cheer them and Kenyans in the Diaspora showing up in good numbers too.
The team is in a fairly easy pool with China (which they beat 47-0 on Day), Portugal and Scotland. The latter two are teams to look out for since Portugal is known to be rough in its style while Scotland has been consistently qualified for the quarters in each of the rounds. Key players to look out for include Lavin Asego, Innocent Simiyu,Brian Nyikuli, Peter Ocholla and debutante George Mbaye.
Another motivating factor is the year’s long sponsorship of the team’s travel and other expenses by Virgin Atlantic. This has helped in a big way motivating players to play without the distraction of where next to raise funds for the next round. The team’s manager Oscar Osir was optimistic that with this year’s performance and improved game play, they will be able to attract even more sponsors for additional funds to invest in the teams and also setting up of a continuous local 7s build up structure to act as a feeder to the national team.
We can’t say anymore here, keep the tries, kicks and wins coming and the $$$ and glory will be all yours !